If you ever see me review a new film which is a remake from an established classic or even a decent enough original film, 99.999999999% of the time you might as well skip my review and just heed these words: “Stick to the original.” And with the new REBECCA movie, that just debuted today on Netflix, that is a remake of the 1940 Alfred Hithcock classic (which happened to win Best Picture that year), to which I have indeed seen, no surprise here but I’m also going to just say “Stick to the original.” And to just get my next review out of the way, tomorrow’s remake of The Witches on HBO Max, I’m betting I will be saying “Stick to the original” a third time, so why even read my reviews? I guess if you want to know in depth details of why the remake doesn’t even hold a candle to Hitchcock’s, then keep reading, as that is what I will mostly be doing in what is hopefully a short review. IMDB describes the Ben Wheatley, 2020 Rebecca with the following: “A young newlywed arrives at her husband’s imposing family estate on a windswept English coast and finds herself battling the shadow of his first wife, Rebecca, whose legacy lives on in the house long after her death.” What confuses me is that in interviews with movie sites that I frequently visit, director Ben Wheatley has said that this is not a remake or retelling of Hitchcock’s Rebecca and that it is a different story that will stand out on its own. Ummmm…I hate to use any words that come out of Donald Trump’s mouth but my viewing of this film warrants it…that’s fake news. This movie is almost a shot by shot remake, even having close to the same runtime as Hitchcock’s (two hours and 10 minutes.) Why you would go around touting in interviews that your film isn’t a remake of another movie with the same story and title, when surely you know that once critics watch it they are going to be calling you a liar? That is indeed a head scratcher. I’m guessing Netflix maybe put him up to it?
This film looks beautiful to be sure and is very well acted by everyone in it, but the mystery that is supposed to be the foundation of Rebecca is hardly there, and when it does come to light, the viewer will not care, as emphasis on what exactly is going on seems to be downplayed so that you only notice just how much money was spent on it’s glorious production design. When the movie ends the next image you will have in your mind is Hitchcock rolling over in his fucking grave. There isn’t an urgency to anything in this movie, wait, that’s not true, Lily James meets and gets married to Armie Hammer all in the span of ten minutes after he plays one game of “hiding his rich white penis in her poor white vagina” on the beach. Who cares about the mystery when you don’t even care that these two characters are together? The original 1940 Hitchcock film is one of the most romantic movies of all time. You completely buy the fact that Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine love each other. Every second of every minute here I believed Hammer was just after banging her and was simply keeping her as a sex trophy wife. The romance is where the film should’ve taken its time but instead, after the rushed meet and greet, the time is taken where it doesn’t need to be, in her wide eyed, amazed look at how rich he is and how her life is going to be so much better while being naive at the fact that the main family caretaker, played by Kirsten Scott Thomas, doesn’t care at all for her. It also spends so much time with Hammer being a complete asshole, we are left in bewilderment why the new missus doesn’t just pack up and leave the bullshit behind her.
The solution to the mystery and what exactly is going on? A little bit different but still ended up going back around to the same path to get to the same resolution as the original. And also in the end, both sides of the audience, those that have and have not seen the Hitchcock film, don’t care, because the rest of the movie didn’t care about its characters or any realism in the romance. It was too busy trying to nab award nominations in costumes, cinematography, and production design. Which begs the question? Why remake Rebecca? Unless you are going to update it to modern times with modern characters and call the film something generic as Becky and try to do what 10 Things I Hate About You did with Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew…Why. Remake. A. Classic. Movie. That. Won. An. Oscar. For. Best. Picture? Shouldn’t we be remaking films that sucked in the first place? Kind of like what You’ve Got Mail did with The Shop Around The Corner, or John Carptenter’s The Thing did with The Thing From Another World and the short story Who Goes There? Why are we remaking films that are already beloved by so many? It doesn’t even make sense, as the 1940 film STILL FUCKING HOLDS UP!!! Alfred Hitchcock paid attention to EVERYTHING in that movie. There is emphasis on the romance, there is emphasis on the mystery of Rebecca, there is emphasis on the tension where it needed to be. We cared about the characters and we cared what their ultimate fates were. I don’t want to watch a film where it’s trying to persuade me to take off my pants and start jerking off because of how great it looks. Go call Michael Bay, because I can’t be persuaded by that shit. Everything has to work in a movie, or at least almost everything, or nothing works. Nothing usually works when you try and re make a classic film…just ask (insert remake here).